News from the Hub

News from the Hub – Week of November 15, 2012

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012 by

Fresh Picks: Top 5 Stories Worth Reading

A Food Desert in Paradise: Solving Hawaii’s Fresh Vegetable Problem
Sam Kalalau, a Native Hawaiian who lives in the isolated, rural town of Hana on Maui’s eastern edge, has a dream for his people, many of whom suffer from chronic conditions with dietary links such as obesity, diabetes, and hypertension. Hana is known mostly for its lushness, postcard-perfect beaches, and spectacular oceans views, and less so for its fertile fields. But this produce whisperer helps run Hana Fresh Farm, a seven-acre, certified organic farm situated on a gentle slope and filled with tropical fruit trees, heirloom greens, and fragrant herbs.

Silos Loom as Death Traps on American Farms
Even as the rate of serious injury and fatalities on American farms has fallen, the number of workers dying by entrapment in grain bins and silos has remained stubbornly steady. The annual number of such accidents rose throughout the past decade, reaching a peak of at least 26 deaths in 2010, before dropping somewhat since.

CBJ: Local Food Hub shares secrets to growing success
The Daily Progress
Since its founding in 2009, the Local Food Hub has grown a broad, stable and self-sustaining customer base of local farmers whose crops support a wholesale distribution network for their locally produced fruits, vegetables, meats and eggs.

Related: Local Food Hub Working to Put Healthy Food on Lunch Tables

Local Alaska foods make way into school lunch menus
Alaska Dispatch
School officials and Alaska farmers are raving about a program that’s putting substantial state money toward school meals for the first time, saying the $3 million grant has improved student diets across the state and given challenged growers a reliable market.

Farmers Watching Their Water Use
Wall Street Journal
For decades, farmers here have tapped a vast underground reservoir to irrigate their fields to grow corn, soybeans and wheat. Now they are reluctantly starting to reduce their water use, fearing a dwindling supply could otherwise make them the last generation to grow bumper crops in this arid patch of the High Plains.  (more…)

News from the Hub – Week of October 22, 2012

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012 by

Fresh Picks: Top five stories worth reading

Local Foods Get a Lift Through Innovative Online Distribution Hub
Ecotrust runs the online marketplace FoodHub, and Organic Renaissance runs a logistics and trucking system for local food delivery in New England.

Big, Smart and Green: A Revolutionary Vision for Modern Farming
WIRED Magazine
What they’re doing on Marsden Farm isn’t organic. It’s not industrial, either. It’s a hybrid of the two, an alternative version of agriculture for the 21st century: smart, green and powerful. On this farm in Boone County, Iowa, in the heart of corn country, researchers have borrowed from both approaches, using traditional techniques and modern chemicals to get industrial yields — but without industrial consequences.

Tech Cash Pours Into Food Start-Ups
The Wall Street Journal

There is a frothy new deal in Silicon Valley, and it gives a taste of where some investors are pouring money these days. A group of well-known technology investors has bought a $20 million controlling stake in Blue Bottle Coffee, a specialty coffee retailer that is gaining fame among the Bay Area’s hipsters. Among the group: Tony Conrad, a partner at True Ventures, Google Ventures, Twitter Inc. co-founder Evan Williams, and Kevin Rose, the founder of the Digg website.

SFUSD puts out bid as part of effort to improve its school food program
San Francisco Examiner
The San Francisco Unified School District is often recognized as a leader in the effort to improve student nutrition. However, the majority of the food the district serves its students is cooked elsewhere, shipped frozen and then reheated at school. Now, the district is seeking a new provider to further improve the quality of its food and the participation in its meals programs.

Scientists defend safety of genetically modified foods
Los Angeles Times
Alteration of crops is widespread, producing plants with higher yields, less need for pesticides and other desirable qualities. And, many scientists say, such crops are as safe as any other. (more…)

News from the Hub – Week of October 15, 2012

Sunday, October 21st, 2012 by

Fresh Picks: Top 5 Stories Worth Reading

Foodhub and FoodEx take on industry giants to distribute food sustainably
The Guardian
Funded by the Ecotrust, an incubator for social enterprise, Foodhub has created an online B2B marketplace for professional food buyers and sellers – akin to or Craigslist – where members post descriptions of products they need to purchase or need to sell.

USDA releases first-ever report on organic agriculture and our food choices
Mansfield Today
In its first-ever report on organic farm production,  the USDA finds that while organic farmers make up less than a half of one percent of all U.S. farmers, they already sell more than $3.5 billion worth of agricultural products.

Calif. expected to lose 100 dairy farms
San Francisco Chronicle
The nation’s drought and high corn prices are devastating California’s $8 billion dairy industry to the point where farmers can’t afford to feed their cows – and their professional trade organization has been regularly referring despondent dairymen to suicide hotlines.

Wallowa County Food System Council sets priorities
La Grande Observer
In little more than a year’s time, a group of local food producers have taken the dream of a sustainable, local food network and are making it a reality.  The Wallowa County Food System Council, a group of gardeners, chefs, ranchers, and community organizers, formed the council over the past year in conjunction with a Community Food Assessment prepared by Josh Russell.  Russell was a resource assistant for rural environments who interviewed dozens of people involved in food production and retail to determine what we raise, how and where it’s sold, and the needs of local consumers.

Tyson Foods Unveils New Farm Audit Program
Tyson Foods, Inc., announced it is launching a program to personally audit the treatment of animals at the livestock and poultry farms that supply the company. The effort is in line with the company’s core value to serve as a steward of the animals entrusted to it. Although Tyson personnel have been conducting the audits so far, the company plans to ultimately involve independent, third-party auditors.


News from the Hub – Week of October 8, 2012

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012 by

Fresh Picks: Top five stories worth reading

Hospitals switch to healthier eating – A passion for quality food
Montana Standard
More and more frequently, hospitals focusing on improving patient meals are turning to local food co-ops and agriculturists for a hand. In Montana, several hospitals network with local agriculturists to put together healthful, personalized meals for patients on the mend.

A New Prescription For the Local Food Movement
The Nation
When you’re making soup for 600, changing your grocery list can quickly get complicated. Hospitals like St. Joe’s are emerging as the next frontier of the local food movement, but they are struggling to navigate the tensions between their new food goals and their reliance on standardized, low-cost products delivered dependably day in and day out. The question is, can the local food movement can scale up to meet institutional demand without losing sight of its original values?

Everyone Eats There (blog)
California’s Central Valley is our greatest food resource. So why are we treating it so badly?

Study to look at ways to distribute Maine seafood to food hubs
Morning Sentinel
Coastal Enterprises Inc., which provides funding and business support to small and mid-sized businesses, said on Saturday it would launch a two-year study with Wholesome Wave to identify the best ways to integrate Maine seafood into the northeast regional food hub system and make it more widely available to consumers.

Food sickens millions as for-profit inspection companies find it safe
The Seattle Times
During the past two decades, the food industry has taken over much of the FDA’s role in ensuring what Americans eat is safe. The agency can’t come close to vetting its jurisdiction of $1.2 trillion in annual food sales. In 2011, the FDA inspected 6 percent of domestic food producers and 0.4 percent of importers. The FDA has had no rules for how often food producers must be inspected. (more…)

News from the Hub – Week of October 1, 2012

Monday, October 8th, 2012 by

Fresh Picks: Top 5 stories worth reading

FoodHub launches joint venture with Boston group
Two ventures focused on local food — Ecotrust’s FoodHub and OR FoodEx of Boston — are joining forces to address one of the biggest issues faced by growing regional food networks: distribution.

For Fisheries, a Line of Hope
NY Times
Community-supported fisheries require cooks to agree in advance to buy whatever fish or shellfish local fishermen catch. Fishermen are asked to embrace plentiful species like skate or redfish, once routinely tossed overboard. With about 80 percent of the seafood on the American plate imported and “traceability” the mandate du jour, community-supported fisheries of varying sizes and ambition are springing up around the country, from Cape Ann in Massachusetts to Santa Barbara in California. There are about 30 nationwide, including two in New York.

Related: Cannery Launches A CSA For Seafood in Astoria, Ecotrope

Chipotle, CIW Finally Reach Accord To Support Florida Tomato Pickers’ Rights
Huffington Post
Chipotle Mexican Grill announced Thursday that it had finally reached an agreement with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) to join the Florida tomato picker group’s Fair Food Program. That makes the burrito chain the 11th major corporation to commit to purchase Florida tomatoes grown only on farms with a minimum wage and basic working conditions stipulated and monitored by the Fair Food Standards Council. These farms add a surcharge of one penny per pound to the price of tomatoes to pay for these improvements.

Organic Food Sales Reached $3.53 Billion in 2011, USDA Says
Organic-foods sales to businesses including Dean Foods Co. (DF) totaled $3.53 billion last year, about 0.9 percent of total U.S. farm receipts, the Department of Agriculture said.

Drought crushes local beef industry in Hawaii
Hawaii cattle ranchers ship 40,000 live cattle each year to California, Kansas and other states, while just 4,000 are slaughtered for meat sales in Hawaii. Now, national interest in locally grown food and grass-fed beef has caught on in Hawaii — offering ranchers plenty of reason to escape this paradox. But the opportunity comes as crushing drought has made it difficult to keep enough cattle here to capitalize on the demand.

Related: Drought Leaves Cracks in Way of Life,


News from the Hub – Week of September 24, 2012

Sunday, September 30th, 2012 by

Fresh Picks: Top 5 Stories Worth Reading

FoodHub launches infographic for local food geeks
Sustainable Business Oregon
Fans of the growing local food movement have a new online tool to help feed their obsession. The team behind Portland-based FoodHub, part of the Ecotrust family, on Thursday unveiled Local Food/Tech Landscape, an easy-to-navigate online tool for keeping all the available technologies straight.

Willamette Valley Canola Controversy Pits Biofuels Against Organics
Associated Press
Wet winters and cool, dry summers make Oregon’s Willamette Valley one of the best places on the globe to produce seeds for organic broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and a variety of other vegetables known as brassicas. That means the fields south of Portland are also an ideal place to grow canola, another brassica whose seeds can be pressed to extract oil for food or renewable fuel. But you won’t find any canola here. It was banned from the Willamette Valley to protect the delicate vegetable seeds from being contaminated by pollen from canola or destroyed by the pests and diseases it brings.

Local Produce Increasingly Preferred To Organic, Consumer Survey Shows
Huffington Post
A recent survey of grocery shoppers commissioned by Whole Foods Market gives new credence to a belief that’s taken hold in the sustainable food movement over the past few years: when it comes to consumer preferences, local is the new organic.

The woman behind the gardens at Chicago restaurants
Chicago Sun-Times
Over the past few years, restaurants all over Chicago have started growing their own food in an attempt to take the local food craze to the next level with distances measured in feet, not miles.

Arizona artisan food industry shown recipe for growth within last 5 years
The Republic
Nationally, artisan food sales soared by about 19 percent between 2009 and 2011, according to the National Association for Specialty Food. At the same time, research giant Packaged Facts reports nearly half of U.S. adults say they “like to eat food with artisan appeal.” (more…)

News from the Hub – Week of September 17, 2012

Monday, September 24th, 2012 by

Fresh Picks: Top 5 Stories Worth Reading

Farm to Table Caucus Advances Local Food Movement
Texas Tribune
On a mission to advance the local food movement, a Democrat from Austin is finding common ground with Republicans and rural Texans. He founded the Farm to Table Caucus, the nation’s first bipartisan legislative caucus focused on advancing the local production of healthy food.

Bill to help homemade food sales
AB1616, known as the Homemade Food Act, will lift restrictions on the sale of home-cooked treats and impose sanitation and labeling requirements on the burgeoning cottage food industry in California.

Michigan hospital hires its own farmer
Farm and dairy
Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital has hired a resident farmer to grow organic produce for patients in its new greenhouse, now open on its 160–acre campus.

So What Happens If The Farm Bill Expires? Not Much, Right Away
The 2008 farm bill, which provides funding for a variety of nutrition programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly food stamps), as well as payments to farmers and agricultural programs, will technically expire Sept. 30. So what does it mean if Congress just leaves it on the table?

How Rural Is Our Local Food Policy?
Daily Yonder
The marketing of local food has been promoted and state-supported as an economic boon to rural places. But thus far, it appears that urban customers and economies are reaping most of the benefits. (more…)

News from the Hub – Week of August 31, 2012

Friday, August 31st, 2012 by

Fresh Picks: Top 5 Stories Worth Reading

Bon Appetit to buy humanely raised ground beef only
Washington Post (blog)
The food-service giant announced that it will source all of its loose ground beef and patties — more than a million pounds a year — from suppliers that meet strict animal-welfare standards.

Bill would allow sale of homemade foods
Los Angeles Times
Slammed by the economy, many households are earning a bit of money on the side with home-cooked confections — without the huge upfront costs in leasing certified commercial kitchens and complying with myriad business rules.

Portland Company Aims To Tame Food Truck Trash
With nearly 700 food carts licensed last year, Portland, Ore., is arguable a leader in the mobile food revolution. Lucky residents can choose between Iraqi-Jewish sabich, yeasted Belgian liege waffles, or Indonesian rendang, all served out of a friendly window on the sidewalk. But all of these mobile meals come with a downside — namely, trash.

Local Food Activists Developing Frozen ‘Real Meals’ for Food Banks
VoiceofOC (blog)
A nonprofit organization has developed a line of highly nutritious, vegetable-laden frozen foods for seniors, homeless people and low-income families who rely on emergency food supplies. The organization, OC Food Access, has been testing a number of dishes for the last year, fine-tuning 15 recipes with carefully selected ingredients that are locally grown whenever possible.

Teachers see more hungry students
Washington Post
Three out of five public school teachers in Maryland say they have students who regularly come to school hungry because they are not getting enough to eat at home, according to a new survey. (more…)

News from the Hub – Week of August 20, 2012

Sunday, August 26th, 2012 by

Fresh Picks: Top 5 Stories Worth Reading

Prison gardens becoming new source of aid for food banks
The Illinois Department of Corrections has started a sustainability initiative that includes planting gardens on prison grounds which have yielded enough produce to assist local food banks.

Oceana targets fishy labeling practices
San Francisco Chronicle
Oceana, a group dedicated to preserving the ocean ecosystem, is testing fish nationwide to find out whether seafood fraud is as widespread as some people think it is.

School food workers grapple with new USDA guidelines and how to get children to eat healthier
Washington Post
There will be more whole grains on school lunch menus this year, along with a wider selection of fruits and vegetables and other healthy options. The challenge is getting children to eat them.

40% of U.S. food wasted, report says
Forty percent of food in the United States is never eaten, amounting to $165 billion a year in waste, taking a toll on the country’s water resources and significantly increasing greenhouse gas emissions, according to a report from the Natural Resources Defense Council released this week.

Celebrate the Farmer!
NYTimes (blog)
I was at a farm dinner in Maine the other night, a long table of 60 people eating corn, chicken, salad, a spectacular herb sorbet and other goodies. When one of the hosts arose to ask someone to describe the first course on the table – huge marrow bones from the farm’s cattle– she introduced not the chef but the farmers. (more…)

News from the Hub – Week of August 13, 2012

Monday, August 20th, 2012 by

Fresh Picks: Top 5 stories worth reading

Food Hubs: Back to the Future?
GoodFood World
It’s 2:30 in the morning; trucks are pulling up to unload fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, cheese, flowers, and more. Chefs and wholesalers make deals with a handshake and crates of produce and other food products are loaded into vans and lorries for delivery. While the rest of the world sleeps, the wholesale market is awake and doing business.

It’s a Go: Small, Local Meat Plants Can Sell Across State Lines
GoodFood World
Ohio this week became the first state to gain approval to sell meat from small, state-inspected slaughterhouses across state lines — a critical step toward rebuilding processing infrastructure for small-scale, regional meat and poultry producers.

USDA checks progress of farm-to-school connections
Capital Press
During the coming school year, USDA will conduct a nationwide census of farm-to-school programs, asking schools about their purchases of local produce, meat and dairy products.

$20 Million in Financing for Food Composting Technology Company
Startup company Totally Green has received $20 million for its innovative composting technology that works off what seems to be the model of the day – solar leasing.

County helps local producers with ‘food chain’ efficiencies
Port Orchard Independent
Kitsap County is not a big producer agriculturally, but the Kitsap Food Chain program seeks to cut energy costs and the carbon footprint to grow and delivering local food to local markets. In effort to make Kitsap County’s “food chain” more energy effecent and affordable the Board of Kitsap County Commissioners Monday approved a series of grants to local food producers.

News from the Nation
Chipotle Ups the Ante to Twice as Much Local Produce
Triple Pundit (blog)
While the company is transparent about the challenges and improvements needed to further their sustainability path, Chipotle still holds strong as the only national chain that touts an official local sourcing program.  Putting even more money where their mouth is, Chipotle met their goal of doubling the amount of produce purchased from local farms.

Local non-profit to support local farmers, meet demand for local foods
Indiana State University
Small and medium-size farmers face multiple obstacles when trying to bring food products to market, but beginning next year they will have a new resource.

Think Quick: Food Hub founder finds fun, not work
An interview with Rob Morris, founder of the Mad River Food Hub in Waitsfield.